The leaf slowly fell at her feet.  She held it up to the night sky and it glared back like the shine of a full moon.  The leaf—half alive, half dead.  Crumbling into bits.  Withering away–in what seem to be a slow death from the living.

And the bird still sings in the dark.

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The road to Bethlehem was well-trodden and Naomi and Ruth’s footprints were deeply carved into the soil long before Mary and Joseph made their journey. Two women who were withering away in their own sorrows–Naomi with the death of her husband and two sons, and her daughter-in-law Ruth grieving the loss of her husband, Naomi’s son.

Their family–broken.

Naomi with a shattered heart said to her daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth, I’m going back to the land of Judah. I have nothing more to give.  No sons.  Nothing.  Go and return to your homeland, your mothers’ home.  God has punished me.

Through weeping of tears and mourning they embraced one another and Naomi prayed for her sons’ wives, The Lord dealt kindly with you. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. (Ruth 1:8-9).

And Orpah, she gave her mother-in-law one last kiss—turned and walked away.

Ruth, the Bible says she “clave” to her mother-in-law.  The Greek translation of clave is cling–bonded together—literally like glue.  And Naomi acknowledged that Orpah was returning to her people, her god and encouraged Ruth to do the same.  Ruth was not taking no for an answer.  She was going with Naomi. She was going with God.

“Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

And at that moment they both said yes, their lives began to change.

Broken Wings

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The Bible gives us very little details of Naomi and Ruth’s lives prior to their leaving Moab.  Did Elimelch, Naomi’s husband die of old age, sickness?  What about Naomi’s sons—Mahlon and Chilion? Did they die of sickness, a tragic accident?  Again, the Bible gives us very little of their story.  The scriptures does tell us that Ruth and Orpah were women of Moab—a people who worshipped a pagan god.

Ten years can seem like forever to a child, but to an adult, ten years is like the flickering of a burnt candle—one minute it’s lit, glowing with a flame and then with a whisper of breath—gone.  Ten years was the length of time Ruth was a part of Naomi’s family.  And it was enough.  It was enough time to learn of God’s goodness and grace—His comfort.

So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. Ruth 1:19.

As soon as Naomi and her Moabitess daughter-in-law entered into the city of Bethlehem, people began to talk, question, Is this Naomi? (Ruth 1:19)

Naomi heard their murmurings and answered, Call me not Naomi, call Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, and the Lord hath bought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?  Ruth 1:20-21.

Naomi who was drowning in her sadness changed her name to Mara meaning bitter in the Hebrew language. And Ruth, she was humbly clinging to the hope of the Light despite the hardness of her past–despite the unknown of her tomorrows.  And there was God in the midst, leading them both to one of their greatest blessings.

Follow a Beautiful Grace to read more of the Women of the Bible Series in the coming weeks–Wednesdays with the Women of the Bible 

Naomi and Ruth, Part II, Gleaning the Harvest

 

 

The top of the page reads May 02, 2020.  Saturday. Day 168.

Dear God.

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Life sure has changed a lot since day one when I  promised to write daily in my prayer journal for 30 days.  It was sometime in November.  I had this prayer request on my mind and wanted to make sure God was leading me or if it was me leading myself–which is never good without Him.

I told myself I would pray for 30 days diligently for this request, writing in my prayer journal and then after those days passed if I felt like God was leading me then I would take the next step.

Thirty days has turned into 168 days.  Twelve days shy of six months.  Twelve days short of a half of a year.  And I’m still penning my prayers to God.  But the thing is my prayer request–the 30-day focus–God are you leading me in this direction? My prayers are much different now.  I still pray for direction on this matter–not daily– it’s not the focus of writing in my prayer journal anymore.

We often think our prayers are meant only for our requests–for asking. I have come to learn pouring our hearts out to God in prayer–in conversation, whether on our knees, writing in a journal, praying while in the car, sitting quietly on the front porch, in a prayer closet–yes, it is about asking God for direction and lifting others for healing and help. But the privilege of prayer is so much more. It’s that one-on-one conversation with the One who gives us breath.  And it’s a privilege and grace to go to His throne. For friendship. For guidance. For comfort. For healing.  And to thank Him.

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Red birdhouse

Dear God, It’s been a tough day.  And I know you already know that.

Dear God, The stress has been a little overwhelming today. And then I walk out to the garden You gave me–get my hands dirty and then I remember all the good of the day–the blessings.

Dear God, Today has been a good day.  Thank you for answered prayers. God, I’m going to write my prayer a little different tonight.  Here’s a list, God of all of the blessings I received today.  Because of You.

Dear God, Today I have allowed tension for some reason to steal my joy in You.  I don’t understand why.  Please forgive me.

Dear God, Thank you for another Sabbath.  It was different today, God.  Sitting at my kitchen table watching our church’s faithful pastor deliver a message by the way of a screen rather than from the pulpit.  And hearing the pastor’s wife using the gift of her voice and song to lift up your name.  It’s still hard God not to cry.  From the missing of worshipping in your house.

White blossoms

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The days on our calendars look much different than the plans we had just a few months ago.  The plans we made–some have been changed.  Some erased–not meant to be. And with this has come fears, frustration, tears, feelings of loss, struggles.  And hope and good and healing and grace and mercy.

And this morning outside my window, a bluebird is perched on the Shepherd’s hook–his coat of blue shining in the morning sun.  God’s beauty has not changed and neither has His love. Pray. Talk with Him. Cry to Him. Praise Him. He’s listening.

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Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Psalm 143:8 (KJV)

I’ve been wanting to share her story for a while.  About her infectious laugh, that she loved flowers—made her living as a farm woman—mother to ten children, eight girls and two boys—widowed at the young age of 44—a woman of great faith—and how she was always the one who had to clean the dirty eggs.

My Granny Rhodes, I always called her that, even after she remarried.  And she didn’t mind, coming from her first granddaughter—nor did my loving step-grandfather, Burton.

Granny Rhodes

Mamie Rhodes England

And here in the pause of this time in our lives—there it was stored in an old box—treasure boxes I call them—full of photos and notes and cards—there, a copy in her own handwriting—a part of her life and there at the top of the page she had written July 25, the day her second baby boy was born and the title of her story—A Wonderful Dream.

“I don’t know where you can read this but I have tried to write it down the best I could I wish I could tell it as real as it was. I thought I had not seen Louise (oldest daughter) in a long time I did not know where I had been but we all was going to heaven together.  I don’t believe time is going to stand long.  I just wanted to write this all down.  Hope you won’t think I am crazy but it is real to me.”

You see, my Granny Rhodes wrote about a dream she had while sedated in childbirth.  Maybe she thought she was dying rather than living.  And then again, perhaps God was preparing a blessing, a message for all of us—for generations to come.

The story goes the doctors and nurses said she was one of the happiest women they had ever seen giving childbirth.  Now keep in mind this was her eighth time birthing a baby.

“I dreamed the end of time it came the very minute my baby was born and I was going in the gates of heaven and Louise, she was there at this place where my baby was born and she didn’t know it was her Mother coming thru. I told her I was going into heaven and I asked her if she was ready to for her to just give me her hand and she did.  And she was crying too”

Will Luffman preached at the church where my Grandpa Rhodes and Grandma Rhodes worshipped—Bethel Baptist Church.  In the year 1952 on July 25th—his words over 68 years ago in my Grandma’s dream is a message much needed today. Read them slow.

and I thought Will Luffman was preaching and I didn’t know anything he said but he said, ‘hurry up, the Lord is here. He has stopped the world long enough for him to get everything just right.  That they was going to be another world and he wanted this to show to the people to prove that there was a Lord and Will Luffman was saying, ‘hurry and the children is at the gates waiting”

And I can only imagine on this day the blessing the nurses and doctor received as they stood close to my Grandma’s bedside.

I was trying to shout and they wouldn’t let me but I didn’t know who was trying to keep (me) from shouting.  I was so happy.  I was saying how happy I’ll be, over and over and I had somebody by the hand and I was saying God bless you and she had tears in her eyes and she said you had a dream, didn’t you?

“I said it was wonderful then and something said never doubt the Lord is with you now.  I don’t believe I could ever be that happy any more and live. I wish I could tell it as real as it was. I have tried to tell it lots of times but it makes me so happy I can’t tell it all at one time.”

My Granny Rhodes, she saw Jesus on that day. And He knew what her tomorrows would hold—ten years later. He knew she would need to know her purpose and He knew she would need to cling to Him, the dream He gave her, and the vision of Heaven.

“It was wonderful just getting to the gates and knowing all of your family was going in too.  I can even see all as he was standing there and his face just shined. I don’t know where I said all of this or not but it is as real as it ever was to me.  If it wasn’t the Lord nobody will ever make me doubt it.  And this same voice said you will be one of the happiest family (ies) in heaven.  This is just wonderful for me to think about.  Will Luffman has made me think of this dream more than one time when he was preaching.  I never could tell all this to all of my family for crying and there wasn’t but one thing sad about it.  It was waking up and seeing it wasn’t true. I believe the Lord left me for my children.  I could say more about this and how happy I have been, but it makes me feel good to write it down.”

On March 3, 1962, my Grandpa Rhodes passed away at the young age of 46, an apparent heart attack and my Granny Rhodes, left a widower with the sole responsibility of the day-to-day operations of their poultry farm and raising her six young children still at home.

Grandpa Rhodes and Granny Rhodes

Otto Rhodes and Mamie Rhodes, Grandpa Rhodes and Granny Rhodes

One of her daughters recalls her talking about her dream, “I remember Mama talking about this dream to me.  She described the gates being made from pearls.  Not many pearls but each gate was carved out of one solid pearl.  Mom also said that the gates did not swing out like a garden gate, but fell down at her feet.”

And on the pages in my Granny Rhodes England’s original notebook were the colors of age and yellowing and her words penned in ink,

“Just signed it today, April 22. Everytime I think about this dream it makes me feel good and every time I read it.  I hope someone finds it some day.” 

Mamie Rhodes England

April 22, 1987

And after all these years, thirty-three years later, I found your dream again, Granny Rhodes. Your story.  And I have shared it with many.  For such a time as this.

The letter

Granny Rhodes and Burton

Step-Grandpa Burton England & Granny Rhodes England

 

 

 

He wraps the nails with the smallest of wires as tight as crippled hands will allow into the form of the cross of his Savior. Five hours for one cross and he wants everyone in our church to have his gift to give.

He said he made something for me as he struggled, reaching into his shirt pocket with his much too young crippling hand.  I carved this angel for you out of cedar, he said. You might can hang it in your closet. It’s not much. My hands doesn’t work so well anymore. 

And this Christmas his wife gave me a gift from him and her.  She said, he doesn’t sleep much and when he can’t sleep he carves. She said sometimes he stays up all night and carves.  And she handed me the most beautiful of snowflakes carved out of cedar–by his crippled hands. 

And I, humbled, do not deserve such beautiful gifts.

The most special of gifts wrapped in a pretty box adorned with a bow will never compared to those of love made with crippled hands and a giving heart.

Psalm 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Bobbys Gifts

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

And on this Sunday morning my pastor said, “We can’t do things for God half-heartedly.” His message from God hit hard–crushing hard on my own heart.

How many times do we give God our least. How often do we give God what is left of our time rather than the best of our time. How is it we find the moments to share about everything of this world, but don’t have the time to share His goodness. And how is we give God only a small portion, when He gave us His all. His Son–His everything.

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Psalm 9:1, I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.

#rendyourheart #fourthdayoffebruary #ourwholeheart #Godisgood #Godislove

(I am very humbled to share one of my son’s designs in this post. He is a gift and I am blessed. Thank you, Daniel Miller.
And thank you Pastor Rodney Blake for your God-sent messages. You and Diane Blake are a gift to our church and to many others.)

Putting the last batch of cupcakes in the oven and in between laughs and giggles, and she looks up at me with her little mouth and nose decorated in pink icing, and she says with a heavy sigh,  ‘My heart’s trying to get angry.’

From the five-year old who loves baking and decorating cupcakes—licking the icing and sprinkles of glitter. Her countenance just moments before was of the happiest and then a sudden change—

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And her words—I wanted to drop to my knees asking God for the right words to say.  I ask her why she was sad—why her heart was trying to get angry.  And she said, ‘I don’t know, but I don’t want it to be angry. God wouldn’t like that. God doesn’t want my heart to be angry. He wants it to be kind.’

She turned and within a matter of seconds she took her place at the table once again—not a care in the world and continued the joy of simple chocolate cupcakes and pink glitter icing and giggles and laughter and an occasional sneaking of a bite of icing.

Myself—it wasn’t for me to comfort my grand baby girl with words on this winter afternoon. The lesson from God was never meant for her. It was meant for me.

And there’s this cleansing—a needed cleansing of the heart even a child understands.

Psalms 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

 

 

Verse of the day.  On this beautiful Sabbath morning.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Salt ornaments hearts

#rendyourheart #sabbath #seconddayoffebruary #worshipinGodshousethisSunday #thedoorisopen #hisheart

 

Through God’s help and much prayer, I will be sharing “Rend Your Heart” weekly and daily devotionals and Bible verses during the month of February.  I pray the devotionals and Bible verses will bless you in a small way and challenge you to rend your heart.  You can follow along with the blog by signing up for daily emails on the home page of a beautiful grace or follow on a beautiful grace Facebook page. 

To God be all the praise and glory. 

 

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. Psalm 9:1 

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

Rend your heart

And we wake up to the first day of another month.  It’s February and it’s all about hearts and love–everywhere.

Throughout the Holy Bible (KJV) the word heart is mentioned 884 times–the first being early in the book of Genesis.  And sadly–within six chapters of God’s story–man and woman broke God’s heart.  His own creation–made in His image–created for friendship–for love and that love broke God’s heart.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

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And the story continues and in the next verse of the chapter, God plans to destroy all His creation–everything.  But there was one man who changed God’s plan.  One man.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8

The prophet Joel wrote,  “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteh him of the evil.” Joel 2:13

In the Old Testament the rending of garments was a sign of a broken heart, mourning, sadness.  But Joel challenges us to rend our hearts, break them open wide and allow God to come into our hearts–give God our whole heart and receive His grace, His mercy, His kindness.  Like Noah did. There are no perfect hearts–Noah’s heart was certainly not perfect, but his heart was open to God’s love and the willingness to listen and obey God’s word–His plan. That is all God asked from us–an open heart. No matter how many holes–how many scars–how many cracks–how many breaks–He asks for our hearts. And He’ll take care of the rest.

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So this heart month–the one month of the year when hearts are seen in abundance, let’s challenge ourselves to rend our own hearts.  Break down the walls–open our hearts to loving others as God loved us–pray that God will allow us to see more deeply the need and hurt of others and act upon those needs.  And more than anything, love Him as He loves us–with a fullness of our hearts.

Reading the story of the creation of God–at the end of each day–the verse ends, “And God saw that it was good.”  Until the sixth day–the last day before He rested and on this day, he made man and woman and it was good–very good, “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

And after Adam and Eve sinned and hid from God–broke God’s heart–God never turned His heart away from them.  He did the opposite. He came seeking them in the garden.  And even though there were consequences for their sins, troubles and trials–God never closed His heart on them. He continued to care and provide and love.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.  Genesis 3:21

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Through God’s help and much prayer, I will be sharing “Rend Your Heart” weekly and daily Bible verses and devotionals during the month of February.  I pray the daily and weekly Bible verses and devotionals will bless you in a small way and challenge you to rend your heart.  You can follow along with the blog by signing up for daily emails on the home page of a beautiful grace or follow on a beautiful grace Facebook page. 

To God be all the praise and glory. 

 

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. Psalm 9:1 

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

Open doors

A few weeks ago my family and I went to one of our favorite restaurants and there’s always bathroom time with the littles–well most of us for that matter.   And as my grand son and I got closer to the restroom area we noticed the door to one of the bathrooms was off the hinges–off the hinges–off the frame and propped up against the wall.  He said, ‘wow Granna look at that door. Somebody needs to fix that so it will open and close again.’

Barn doors

I’ve thought about that door a lot–about open doors.

I’ve been praying for God to open a certain door for awhile now.   

And with the New Year’s resolutions, goals, visions–open doors–new doors are sometimes at the top of many of our lists. 

But what if those doors are there for the opening–each and every day–and we fail to see them. Does it take a door completely busted–resting against a wall for us to even notice?  

And yeah, I’ve seen and read, ‘Wait in the hallway until God opens the door’ or something like that.  I believe that is true. Very true.

In the stillness.  With patience. We should wait on Him.  But maybe, if we’re completely honest–maybe there have been times we’ve left Him in the hallway.  We don’t see. And He’s waiting for us to hear His voice.  Waiting for us to see the grace and glory of His open door.

Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Old House

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And there were Mary and Joseph still in Bethlehem with God’s child and the Wise Men appeared at their door.  Knocking.  And bravely–they opened the door.  God had sent these men with treasures that could be sold for supplies for the long journey ahead.  The fleeing for safety journey that Mary and Joseph knew nothing of until after the Wisemen went on their way and the angel appeared unto Joseph.

Matthew 2: 11-14,  (KJV) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

The hearing of the knock always has a choice.  Do we hear and walk away? Do we choose to listen and open the door? Like Mary and Joseph. And the decision is also ours to have the faith to walk up to the door and knock. Like the Wisemen.

No matter whether we answer the door at the sound of His voice or ask in truth-faith believing and knock–Jesus will be on the other side.  For He is the door and His door will always be opened wide with grace.

John 10:9, (KJV) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Matthew 7:7, (KJV) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 

 

 

 

He had a sign on the front of his old work truck and it said Native American.  I called him Willie.  He was short with a long gray ponytail and he looked like Willie Nelson.  And for a few short months he worked on a construction site of the business where I worked.  I asked him if was a Native American–an Indian and his voice grew softer and he said, ‘Part.  My Grandmother was a full-blooded Sioux.

Sunsets

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My Daddy often stopped by where I worked during his lunch or in between factories and on this day Willie happened to be working inside the building and I introduced Daddy to Willie.

Daddy reached out his hand to shake Willie’s hand and he said, ‘You don’t want to shake my hand–it’s dirty.’  And my Daddy, his hand stood firm in mid-air and said, ‘That don’t bother me.’

Willie, he then stroked his hand on his worn blue jeans, trying to clean the dirt away and reached for Daddy’s hand. And the handshake, it was the union of two men much more alike than they realized–

And we all look back on memories and wish the moment would have lasted a little longer.

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What Willie didn’t know was my Daddy worked in some kind of maintenance work and electrical work all his life.  My Daddy’s hands–they never looked clean even though water ran through his fingers and cracks of hard work, daily.  His hands were rough, dry, chapped, strong.  

I miss watching my Daddy relate to people such as Willie.

Days later Willie walked in my office carrying a gift. ‘I brought you something.  It’s not much. You can hang it on your mirror in your car or you may not even want it.’

And he handed me this necklace with leather and orange, yellow, red, brown and white beads.  ‘The long white ones, those aren’t beads–those are porcupine quills  and my Grandmother made this.’

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Weeks passed and the construction done and Willie, he moved on to another construction site and I never saw or talked with him again.  And sadly, I don’t remember his real name.

The necklace–I did hang it on my car mirror and it rode along with me for many miles over the years until the quills grew weak and began to break.

And in a few days we will celebrate the holiday of gratitude.  Of giving thanks.  This reaching out to others.   Seeing two dirty hands gripped together in a bond that may only come around once.  The holding on to the treasure of a grandmother who with worn hands and fingers intricately weaved this gift–and then to reach deep and give it away.  

The hands on the clock are spinning.  Clouds are rolling in and there’s these acts of kindness in our lives that may seem to last for only a brief moment of our time. And we wish for just a second we could go back to only cling to the memory a litle tighter. 

And His grace, it comes in the smallest of gifts.  

 

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